Rishi Kapoor refused to act with Amitabh Bachchan, demanded his replacement: Tinnu Anand
Actor-filmmaker Tinnu Anand has revealed in an interview that he struggled to make his directorial debut, 1979 actioner Duniya Meri Jeb Mein, despite getting Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor — two of the biggest stars then — on board. Tinnu, who was making his directorial debut with the film, said Rishi Kapoor refused to work with Bachchan a day after saying yes to the film.
“My brother Bittu was a producer and we were not financially secure to make a film like Duniya Meri Jeb Mein. So, we had to listen to the whims and fancies of the actors. Like when I told Rishi Kapoor that I was going to narrate the story to Amitabh Bachchan, he was very happy. That night he went to a party of the film Zinda Dil and when his cameraman-director Sudarshan Nag asked him what was he feeling so happy about, he told him that the next day he and Amitabh would sign on the dotted line to act in Tinnu’s film,” the director told ETimes.
Tinnu added that it was Nag’s comment that changed Rishi’s mind and he told the makers he would do the film only if Bachchan was replaced.
“Nag asked him if it was about a trapeze act and when Rishi confirmed it was, they told him it would be foolish to do the film if Amitabh was going to be a part of it. The next morning my brother got a call from him — they were very close and Rishi had done two films with us without charging a single penny — and Rishi told Bittu that he would do the film on only one condition.
“He wanted us to cast someone else as Rishi was convinced that Amitabh had a better role than him and since he played a handicapped character, he would gain sympathy. We were in a quandary.”
The solution to the problem was also given by Rishi Kapoor, as he suggested his superstar uncle Shashi Kapoor as the replacement. “Rishi suggested we take Shashi Kapoor, his uncle. But we didn’t know back then that Shashi will only give two hours in a day for the film. Apparently, he was called ‘taxi’ and that label was given to him by Raj Kapoor. (Shashi Kapoor had a frenetic lifestyle and he would move around so much that he’d perpetually spend most of his day in a car, hence the name taxi.)”
Duniya Meri Jeb Mein released in 1979, starring Rishi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor. Though Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan were competitors, they featured together in several memorable films including Amar Akbar Anthony, Naseeb, Kabhi Kabhie and Coolie. They last paired up in Umesh Shukla’s 102 Not Out in 2018 after a gap of 27 years.